Pulling the trigger: How threats to the nation increase support for military action via the generation of hubris

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Abstract

Previous studies of public opinion in the United States have reported positive associations between national hubris and support for military actions. This article argues that in addition to its stable aspect, national hubris has a contextual aspect: under perceived symbolic threats to the nation, national hubris increases and boosts support for military action. To test this argument, which is grounded in a sociological and social psychological understanding of individuals as members of collectivities who pursue a symbolic politics of status achievement and maintenance, a surveyexperiment was conducted with a nationally representative sample. In the experiment, participants who were exposed to rhetoric that highlighted symbolic threats to the nation to justify an impending military action against Iran's nuclear facilities reported higher levels of national hubris and were more likely to support the military action than either participants who were exposed to internationalist rhetoric or those in the control group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-334
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Science
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Nationalism
  • Public opinion
  • Survey-experiment
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)

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